Are Those Free Helium Hotspot Miners Really The Best Deal?

11 min read

Helium hotspot miner decision

How much for a Helium hotspot miner?

Have you heard about people making money with Helium token miners? Lots of people are making money passively, with just a Helium Hotspot miner sitting on their window sill. 

It’s almost like free money. Before you sign up though, let’s look at what’s involved.


How to get started with Helium mining at home

Bobcat Helium miner setup

  • Reserve your Hotspot location
  • Get a Hotspot Miner
  • Place it up high, or next to a window
  • Connect to power, antenna and internet
  • Onboard to network using smartphone Helium app

3 major benefits of Helium mining at home

Helium miner easy to set up
Helium miner make passive income
Helium miner affiliate plan

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Wondering what all the fuss is about?

Making money with Helium token miners is happening in almost every city, suburb and rural area in the U.S.

It’s a real thing. Just get a Helium miner, place it up high or next to a window and start receiving passive monthly payouts. It’s Helium’s reward to you for helping to build out “the People’s Network.” 

The tricky part is how you get your Helium miner. Should you sign up for a free miner, should you lease one, or should you buy? We’ll explore your options in just a minute. 

What is Helium?

The company Helium started in 2013, with the goal of connecting “Internet of Things” devices that people use to make their homes smart. You may be familiar with some of these Things: smart refrigerators that keep track of your milk and eggs, video monitors for your front door, home environmental sensors, and tracking devices for Fido and Felix.


The company founders saw the promise of the Internet of Things, but

Helium network innovation 1


Helium’s first innovation was to come up with a decentralized network of hotspot hubs that operate with cheap, safe, low-energy, long-range “LongFi” radio waves.


Decentralized means the network is being created by, shared with, and used everywhere, by many of the same people who own all of those IoT devices. Which is why Helium calls this “the People’s Network.”


At the start of 2019 there were an estimated 22 billion IoT devices. By the end of 2021 every household, on average, was predicted to have 50 connected devices. And every second another 127 devices are connecting to the internet for the first time.



So, there needs to be lots and lots of hotspot hubs in order to receive and transmit the data from all of those IoT devices.



Helium hotspot quantity


The need to be everywhere resulted in Helium’s second innovation: incentivizing and rewarding people for hosting hotspots in their homes and places of work.


Tracking hotspot performances and mailing checks to potentially millions of hosts would have been impractical and cost-prohibitive. Instead, Helium created a cryptocurrency which they named Helium (HNT).


Every time a hotspot performs an IoT related task Helium pays the host in HNT cryptocurrency. The host can trade those HNTs for dollars.



The payment amounts depend on the types of tasks performed, and are determined by a sophisticated algorithm. The key, however, is that all these payments happen automatically.



And, of course, there’s an app to keep track of it all. The Helium app.



Each Helium app download comes with its own exclusive secure cryptocurrency wallet. Every time a hotspot gets paid, the HNT value shows up in the host’s Helium wallet.



The most active hotspots have paid out more than $3,000 per month at their peak. Most hotspots do not earn anywhere near that much, but even so . . .



Helium hotspot potential earnings


“The current window of opportunity may be fleeting.”  

The demand for hotspot miners has skyrocketed, but the highest payouts for individual mining devices will only last a short time, followed by a much longer period of reduced earnings.
Helium Token Allocation Plan

Helium’s 50 year plan for distributing Helium Tokens to Hosts and Investors. Image by

“The supply of Helium Hotspot Miners has sputtered at the same time demand has taken off.”

The first big wrinkle in the business model was the Covid 19 pandemic.






Helium miner availability

Image by author via Microsoft Excel.

*915 MHz is the required frequency for hotspot miners in North and South America. Refer to Helium documentation for specific countries.


The Semiconductor chip supply, concentrated mainly in Taiwan, is dependent on raw material availability, factory labor, availability of shipping containers and dockworkers to load and unload those containers.

All of these factors were affected by Covid 19, resulting in a worldwide chip shortage that is expected to be felt into 2022 and possibly even into 2023.

Mining models


What does this mean to your choice of free, retail or market price hotspot miners? That depends on your level of commitment.


Let’s look at three possible examples: 1) a low-commitment approach to gain a modest passive income for many years, 2) a high-commitment aggressive entrepreneurial approach, and 3) an affiliate marketing partnership with low-commitment hosts.


For these examples, commitment just means the amount of time, effort and money you’re willing to put into it.

1. The Set-it-and-Forget-it Approach


You might choose this Low-Commitment approach if you’re worried about the risk that Helium will fail or that the window for making decent money is just too damn small. Or maybe your time is more valuable to you for other pursuits, or you feel out of your comfort zone technically.


A low commitment approach means not risking a $500 investment to buy your own mining device. You still agree to place a mining device in your home or workplace, but you let the hotspot provider take the financial risk. If your hotspot doesn’t make anything you don’t have an investment to lose.


Risks you avoid include:

  • A poor location could mean only earning a few dollars per month, not enough to pay for your own hotspot.
  • Having to share reward payouts if too many other people place hotspots around you.
  • Helium halving: Every two years the number of Helium tokens paid out is halved, while the number of miners sharing the payouts is growing exponentially.
  • Helium could fail to build out the Internet of Things because of competition from Starlink/Swarm, Amazon Sidewalk and others.
  • Shift from Proof of Coverage to Network Data Transfer as the Internet of Things reaches its global connectivity goals.
  • Value of the Helium Token could drop, because of cryptocurrency volatility, or because of changes in the legal or political environments, or even because of public sentiment. The more Helium you mine, the greater your exposure to this risk.

If your hotspot does make money, you get to keep part of it. Even if it’s only $40 or $50 per month it may still feel like found money. If you’re not going to invest in your own miner or try to make a side-business out of this, then this approach starts to look like low-hanging fruit.


This is the 30,000 foot view of the set-it-and-forget-it approach. I’ve provided more detail on my YouTube channel, The Wily Prospector. Heads up, though. My videos on YouTube contain affiliate links for a Helium mining offer.




2. A High-Commitment Aggressive Entrepreneurial Approach


A hotspot miner placed in an elevated location with of view of other hotspots can make a lot of money, even after Helium halving. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month. What if you could pick the best locations for yourself, and put a hotspot in every good location you find? At that point you would have a business. Potentially a business that could make you rich. And after you do the up-front work, a business that would need very little additional effort.

ask me about Helium mining

Photo by My Networking Apparel on Unsplash

This approach means you would need to pay for the mining devices yourself, before they start making money. That means four or five hundred dollars retail with a several-weeks to several-months wait time. And time lost waiting for a miner is time you can’t earn Helium tokens. So run your numbers and decide if it makes sense to pay the going rate of one to two thousand dollars each for new miners from reputable eBay sellers.


As an entrepreneur you would also need to figure out the places where new hotspots will earn the most money and then negotiate with landowners or people living or working in those locations, to become hosts for your hotspots.



This approach can work well right now, while conditions are the most favorable. As time passes and more and more hotspots are added to the Internet of Things, it will get harder to make as much money. But, for entrepreneurs, it’s still an attractive opportunity. Even when Helium rewards transition to just Network Data Transfer, it could still be hands-free money.



There are also other plays available to Helium mining entrepreneurs. Rewards for the Consensus Group function are now only available to Validators. You have to stake 10,000 Helium tokens to become a Validator, but companies like Helium Staking will let you stake as many HNT as you want for the right to share in Consensus Group rewards.



Many Helium hosts hold onto the HNTs their miners earn instead of trading them for dollars, as investments in Helium’s potential future appreciation. Yes, it’s a risky investment, but one that could pay off in a big way.



Who isn’t aware of the increase in value of a Bitcoin from pennies to $60,000 each?





3. An affiliate marketing partnership with set-it-and-forget-it hosts


iHub Global is becoming a major player in building out the People’s Network. First, they took incentivizing hotspot hosts to the next level. That meant not only passing on mining rewards to their hotspot hosts, but also sweetening the pot with free hotspot miners.


We’ll explain why this didn’t work out for them. More importantly, however, iHub also added a new innovation to the mix: offering affiliate incentives to every host who recruits other hosts.


There’s nothing new about affiliate marketing, but this model is well-suited to building out the IoT network, and no one else is doing this successfully.


Essentially, the affiliate model means that iHub Global has its own host of evangelists who believe in the product and are motivated to find and recruit new hosts for Helium hotspots. These affiliates magnify iHub Global’s marketing efforts and make Helium happy by accelerating the building out of the IoT network.


Affiliates receive incentives in Helium tokens, based on the number of Helium tokens mined by the hosts they recruit. In turn, the recruited hosts are also incentivized the same way with their own recruits. Incentive payments come from iHub’s marketing budget and are not subtracted from the earnings of recruits.


iHub global affiliates


Convincing people to sign up for a hotspot miner that will pay them passive income, potentially for the rest of their lives, is not a hard sell.


And iHub does not limit the number of customers or affiliates any affiliate can recruit and earn rewards from.


A hundred customers could provide a full-time income. A thousand customers might enable an affiliate to retire. For many entrepreneurs this will be a dream come true.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Is this a Pyramid Scheme?


I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, only my opinion. It is possible for affiliates to receive all of their income based on the mining rewards of the hosts they recruit. I believe that is similar to the way a pyramid scheme works.


Each new recruit must pay for a mining device, in the form of a $99 application fee and either a monthly lease or a staking deposit. This is enough to cover some of iHub Global’s operating costs, but it’s not a significant source of revenue and it does not go to the affiliate recruiters.


Affiliate incentives are an allocated portion of the cost of iHub Global’s business model, and also not a revenue source. This business plan only works for iHub Global if it helps them build out the IoT network and collect Helium mining rewards.


Also, it only works for affiliates if the recruited hosts under them are actually collecting mining rewards. And collecting mining rewards is not difficult. After onboarding of each affiliate’s hotspot, it happens automatically.


The iHub Global affiliate model is based on creating value by building out the Internet of Things network, and receiving rewards from Helium based on the value created. In my opinion it is above board and not a pyramid scheme.


How to get started


Newcomers might be concerned about having to become salespersons, but Helium has designed this opportunity to avoid hard-sell marketing. The cost is very low with a high potential upside. To qualify for a Helium hotspot there are only three requirements:


1) iHub will check the physical address where a host wants to put a hotspot to make sure there are no other hotspots within 300 meters (if there were, the host would not be able to receive full rewards, and iHub will not authorize a hotspot at that location. You can still qualify as an affiliate, however, and recruit hotspot hosts for other locations.)




2) Pay a $99 application fee for a hotspot mining device.




3) Choose to either lease the hotspot miner for $18/mo or put up $400 in the form of a refundable deposit to stake the hotspot miner.




iHub also provides a voucher for a 5.6 or 8 dBi antenna, which in most cases allows hotspot miners to interact with more hotspots, which means more rewards.




Average hotspot miners earn enough rewards to recover the application fee quickly, as well as the $18/mo lease payments. Even so, $99 plus a lease or deposit may still seem like too much of a commitment for many people.




This is a promising opportunity, but it’s not for everyone. But, don’t worry. There are new opportunities around every corner to fit every level of risk tolerance.




You can find more details about the iHub Global affiliate program in my YouTube video, “Make Money At Home Passively: How To Create Long Term Wealth.”




Full disclosure: the author is an iHub affiliate. If you decide to join the iHub affiliate program after clicking one of my links I may receive future Helium rewards.



.Image by MoneyforCoffee from Pixabay

A closer look at Free Miner offers


Several companies offer an easy way to make a little money from Helium mining. They offer a free miner and a percentage of the Helium tokens earned in exchange for hosting the miner in your home or workplace.


These free hotspot providers are suffering from the same supply chain issues as the retail companies. It’s not clear whether these providers have the resources and business plans to weather the current storm. Performance data from these companies and feedback from their customers is scarce.


The iHub Global Helium Miner Pricing Strategy


Until recently, iHub Global also offered a free miner, with 25% of HNTs earned going to the host. iHub Global appears to have more solid financial backing than the free hotspot providers listed above. They also appear to have a better handle on supply chain bottlenecks, as they are positioned with multiple suppliers to begin regular deliveries in Jan 2022 with delivery lead times measured in weeks rather than months.


Even with iHub’s deeper pockets, however, the free miner concept proved difficult to fulfill. As much as 25% of the people who received free iHub Helium Hotspot Miners did not actually go through the onboarding process required to activate the devices.


why would people not deploy their helium hotspot miner?


Especially when those same people only needed to take a few minutes to set up their hotspots, then start earning money without work every month?


You might say because it’s free they didn’t value it, and you wouldn’t be wrong.


Inactive devices don’t help to build out the Helium IoT Network, and they don’t earn Helium tokens.


Apparently, iHub Global did not anticipate that people would just leave valuable miners in the boxes. When they realized what was happening, it became clear to their investors that the business plan was flawed. The investors were not happy.

iHub free miner pivot


How will charging people for the hotspot miners help? On the surface it should mean iHub will be able to offset some of their capital expenses. It also gets skin in the game for the people who order the mining devices.


Research indicates that the perceived value of things goes up when people have to pay for them or work for them [1, 2].



And, the “loss aversion principle” studied in psychology says people respond to losses more strongly than to gains [3].



So, the unspoken hope here, is that people who pay for Hotspots are more likely to turn them on because they don’t want to feel bad about paying for them and then not using them.



iHub Global expects more hotspot hosts to take action to recover their miner costs. That action could be something as simple as turning on Discovery Mode in the Helium App.



Discovery Mode lets hotspot hosts find the best locations in their homes for interacting with other hotspots and making more money.



In this example, having some skin in the game should motivate hotspot hosts. With just a little action both hotspot hosts and iHub Global will be able to make more money.



value vs worthless

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

So, is Free overrated?


Maybe. This is an experiment in progress. 

Maybe fewer people will sign up to become hotspot hosts, because they’re no longer free. Transaction friction increases significantly when people are asked to provide their credit card information. 

And, it’s not just a matter of cost. Now, consumers must work harder. The decision-making process becomes more difficult, because consumers have to overcome doubt and even fear. Many will pass on the opportunity just because it seems like too much work to figure out if they should do it. 

People generally make decisions emotionally, then rationalize those decisions with logic.  Taking away the opportunity to get something for free makes people feel like they’ve missed out. So, emotionally, paying for a miner that used to be free, is harder to justify.  

Which is too bad, because logically this offer is still an exceptional deal, for both casual and entrepreneurial types.


cost vs value tradeoff

Photo by Athena from Pexels, Van Gogh image by Prawny from Pixabay



[1] Norton, M. I., Mochon, D. and Ariely, D. (2012) ‘The IKEA effect: When labor leads to love’, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22, 453–460.


[2] Thomas, M., et al. (2004). When Do Higher Prices Increase Demand? The Dual Role of Price in Consumers’ Value Judgments.


[3] Baumeister, R.F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K.D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5, 323–370.



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